New Delhi: Country's largest border guarding force BSF has made a strong pitch for a special 'border service' pay for its men stating the troops are deployed well ahead of the Army along international borders and they face the "first brunt" of an enemy attack.
The 2.5-lakh strong Border Security Force (BSF) has sought the special allowance on the lines of what is being granted to Army troops under Military Service Pay (MSP) when deployed in hard and harsh border areas, like on the Indo-Pakistan border.
The BSF, in a report presented to the Union Home Ministry and the 7th Pay Commission, said it meets the criteria for qualifying under this category like the Army and other defence forces, as it is the "first line of defence on borders with Pakistan and Bangladesh and it faces the first brunt of enemy and has been defending the borders of India from the last 49 years".
The force has said it is "ironical" and "demoralising" for its men in border combat that they do not get special allowances like their colleagues in the Army as they are deployed in very much the same area and conditions.
"Ironically, the army personnel on Line of Control and elsewhere are placed in similar situations, similar area, facing similar enemy and similar threat, deployed in the similar hardships and similar climate are entitled for MSP, (but) the co-located BSF personnel gets none.
"The life of a BSF personnel is much harder, difficult, risky and committed than that of the Army personnel. Thus, it is very demoralising that while the Army personnel get the MSP, the BSF personnel are deprived of it despite similar kind of commitments, risks and hardships," the report accessed by PTI said.
The force, raised in 1965 and celebrating its 50 years in 2015, demanded that the BSP should be given to its troops at the rate of 30 per cent of their existing basic pay.
BSF draws some parallels and exceptions vis-a-vis some of its characteristics when compared with the Army.
"Like army, the BSF recruitment is conducted under tough physical/medical guidelines and as a border man they are expected to maintain the highest standard of physical fitness and discipline throughout their service to be able to serve under toughest conditions.
"Unlike army, there being no concept of peace station in the BSF, the majority of BSF personnel are compelled to live separately away from their families due to adverse service conditions. This invariably results in an inevitable long separation from family life and alienation from the same society from where he joined BSF at the tender age of 18 plus," the report said.
The force said it has demonstrated its capabilities and bravery alongside Army during the outbreak of various hostilities along the Indian borders like the 1971 war, the 1999 Kargil conflict and 'Op Parakram' (post Parliament attack).
"BSF is deployed on extreme frontiers of India. But due to operational imperatives and to maintain the operational efficiency of the force the troops are shifted from extreme hard to hard/normal areas and vice-versa after a gap of 2 to 3 years. The service conditions, hardships and duties of BSF, however, generally remain same," it said.
The force feels it has "neither the liberty nor the luxury to fail" and hence should be considered for special allowances like BSP which will not only boost the morale of its troops but will also better the lives of its men who remain away from their families for a long-time when they are either posted at borders or for other internal security duties like combating Left wing extremism and countering insurgents in the northeast.
The report said BSF has "all field and no peace stations" for its personnel and unlike any other defence forces it performs both "war and peace-time roles ie., Army and police duties" as per its charter.